- April 7, 2021
Here’s the truth. I’m not trying to be sappy or rah-rah — nothing like that. But what I’m going to tell you is true. And embracing this cliche of a phrase is pretty much the only thing you need to understand to change your life. It’s what you end up with after you remove all the B.S. and extra layers you pile on top of your personality and circumstances.
So, what’s the truth?
You already have everything you need to be successful. You’re just letting certain things get in the way of that success. Mostly, you’re getting in the way of that success.
Without knowing you, I can probably guess a few things about you.
You’re at least reasonably intelligent. I know that because you’re taking the time to read something. You don’t need to be a genius to get exceptional outcomes in life. Look at the word extraordinary — it literally means adding some extra oomph on top of being ordinary. That’s all you need, some added effort.
Again, another clue I can tell simply from the fact you’re reading this right now. You have some level of ambition. Most people abandon the idea of self-improvement at some point in their lives. They just decided that they were going to tolerate whatever type of lifestyle they’re currently living. You? Clearly, you will want to either do more or be more. Just having an above-average level of seriousness toward your future puts you ahead of the pack.
Last, I know you probably kick yourself a lot because there are things you know you’re supposed to be doing with your life, things you know would greatly improve the quality of your life, that you’re just not doing. You have the mental image in your head of how it would feel to do these things. And it feels good. But then you snap out of the daydream and come to find that reality paints a different picture.
How do you close the gap?
Short answer — you do the things you know you’re supposed to be doing repeatedly and give yourself time to get it to work. You already know that. But you also want to do, or not do, certain things so that you can make the process much much easier.
Most of us, myself included, spend too much time pursuing our goals as if we had this heavy backpack while climbing a mountain. There’s just so much extra weight we put on ourselves that makes the process of getting what we want much more difficult. Most of that weight is unnecessary and unhelpful mental chatter that we just need to let go of. But we get caught in these loops of useless thoughts that get us nowhere.
I can’t give you a perfect recipe for letting go of or getting rid of these thoughts. But understanding how useless they are is a great start. Let’s take a look at some thoughts that are doing nothing more than holding you back from the outcomes you want to have in the future.
Wishing things were different than they are right now
When you’re not happy with your present circumstances, you tend to dwell on them. You want your situation to change immediately even though you logically know this is impossible. You look back in the past and try to re-write history but there’s nothing you can do about what’s already done.
Every moment you spend wishing your life was different takes away from time you could spend making a difference. Acceptance of the present moment is difficult, but it’s the only way you’re ever going to make any progress.
So, what do you do? Just be objective about your life situation, as objective as you can be, and try not to add too much emotional context on top of it.
Say you’re dissatisfied with your job. Ok. Can’t quit your job this very second. But you’ve pinpointed something in your life that needs fixing. Accept that you’ll be at this job for a little bit, but start planning your escape route. Don’t beat yourself up for having a job you dislike. Be objective. You simply have a problem that needs to be solved, nothing more nothing less.
Maybe you’re dealing with something in your personal life. I remember separating from my wife two years ago. In the beginning, I wanted to fight what was happening. I spent weeks thinking about everything that went wrong and I beat myself up about it. But, at a certain point, I accepted my reality and used my self-improvement training to my advantage – I focused on projects, exercised, started meeting new people, etc. But none of that good stuff started to happen until I came to terms with my present circumstances first.
Accept wherever you’re at today. We’re moving deeper into springtime right now. Maybe you thought you’d have a lot more accomplished right now. Maybe you have some New Year resolutions you failed to follow through with. Oh well, you can start now. I love this quote “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now”
Speculating instead of doing what it takes
I have so many aspiring writers ask me for advice. The one thing most of them have in common? They don’t write all that much. Instead of writing, they speculate about what it would be like to write. They ask me questions that they’d know the answers to if they just started writing.
Are there certain things you need to know beforehand before you start writing? Sure, you might want to do some research into how to choose a topic, set up a blog, promote your work, etc. But these items shouldn’t take you a ton of time.
We’re addicted to information. Consuming information makes you feel like you’re doing something even though you’re really not. The only reason I have a career is that it’s very difficult to move people from the speculation phase to the action phase. I’ve been there. I still am there in many ways.
When I get stuck in speculation I remind myself that the only way I’m going to find the truth about the thing is to do the thing. Thinking about doing the thing without doing the thing is counterproductive. The more you think, the more you try to anticipate the future in detail before it happens, the deeper you fall into analysis paralysis.
You want the answer upfront but the answer won’t reveal itself until you do the work. Doing the work of trying to change your life often involves negative emotions and situations — doubt, rejection, embarrassment, mini-failures along the way.
When you try to think your way into success, you’re attempting to create some path where these negative emotions don’t occur. Impossible. Don’t try to protect yourself by imagining a path to success that doesn’t involve turmoil. Bad things will happen. Not truly bad things. Only things you interpret as bad because your brain has the need to add so much extra meaning that isn’t actually required.
Lying to yourself about who you really are in the moment
You probably have this idealized image of who you are. It’s the ‘you’ you fantasize about in your daydreams. It makes you feel good to think about being this person. But you’ll never become this person in real life until you realize that you’re currently not this person.
In short, daydreaming about a better future won’t get you far. Yes, you can visualize your success. You should. But in your day-to-day life, you’re better off being honest about who you are right now so you can actually change.
Most people don’t want to be confronted with real feedback from the world. These concepts all overlap. You wish things were different, which keeps you stuck. You speculate about a better future without doing the work. You do this because you don’t want to find out what you’re really cut out for.
You don’t want to face the possibility that you’re not who you think you are. At least not yet. It’s easier to live in Potentialville and mentally masturbate to the idea of getting better than to face the harsh reality that you, as you’re currently constructed, aren’t yet capable of building the life you want.
Again, changing this just comes down to real acceptance. If you’re not as confident as you need to be right now. Admit that and work on your confidence. If you’re not as disciplined and motivated as you need to be. Face it so that you can improve.
You can admit your weaknesses, deficiencies, and flaws while simultaneously believing that everything about you can change. I didn’t truly start to change my life until I was honest with myself. I had a story in my head that I’d be this hotshot business owner, but I was dead broke. I told myself that eventually, I’d get it together, but I looked at my life and saw that it was falling apart, set to get worse if I didn’t do something immediately. I loved to tell myself a story about my intelligence, but at that point, I’d made a ton of dumb mistakes. I had to own it.
You have to own who you are, where you are, and what needs to be done. Until you own it for real, nothing will change.
I know the tone of this came off a bit negative. But that’s only because we’re prone to take objective reality in a negative way. Life is not always rainbows and butterflies. A nice coddling message about how you can “believe it and achieve it!” sounds nice, but it doesn’t map with the real world.
You have to take certain actions to get what you want. And you won’t take them until you snap out of the BS elements of your own thinking. You already have everything you need. And once you get rid of all the excess, you’ll realize it.
Then, you’ll start taking action. As time goes by, you’ll look back at everything you did after you stopped wasting so much time in your head. You’ll be an entirely different person seemingly overnight.
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